myNext is Not Giving Up on the Future
March 16, 2014
Jay Strother · Acts 15:36-41
A young man named John Mark accompanied Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey but at Perga John Mark gave up the journey for an undisclosed reason (Acts 13:13); this departure later caused a rift between Paul and Barnabas when they chose their companions for the second missionary journey (Acts 15:37–41). Paul was unwilling to take Mark again and chose Silas; they returned to Asia Minor and Greece. Barnabas persisted in his choice of Mark, who was his cousin (Col. 4:10), and returned with him to his homeland of Cyprus (Acts 15:39).
This break occurred about AD 49–50, and John Mark is not heard from again until a decade later. He is first mentioned again, interestingly enough, by Paul—and in favorable terms. Paul asks the Colossians to receive Mark with a welcome (Col. 4:10), no longer as an assistant but as one of his “fellow laborers” (Philem. 24). And during his imprisonment in Rome, Paul tells Timothy to bring Mark with him to Rome, “for he is useful to me for ministry” (2 Tim. 4:11). One final reference to Mark comes also from Peter in Rome; Peter affectionately refers to him as “my son” (1 Pet. 5:13).
Thus, in the later references to Mark in the New Testament, he appears to be reconciled to Paul and laboring with the two great apostles in Rome. Not only that, John Mark goes on to write the first gospel account of the life and ministry of Jesus and church history tells us that he later becomes the first evangelist to Egypt, the founder of the churches of Alexandria, and the first bishop of that city. So great were his converts, both in number and sincerity of commitment, says Eusebius, that the great Jewish philosopher, Philo, was amazed. Barnabas didn’t give up on young John Mark, just as we are called to not give up on the next generation, but as we are called to invest in the future of the church.